The Goliath Diaries by Alan C Egan

Underwater photographer Alan C Egan has volunteered to write a series of posts about diving the goliath grouper aggregation off Boynton Beach, Florida this year. Large numbers of goliath groupers (Epinephelus itajara) gather to form spawning aggregations, with up to 100 individuals at any one site. Given that the fish can reach up to 455kg (800lbs) and over 3m (6 ft 6”), it is an amazing spectacle. He will be updating his reports as he carries out dives, so please keep checking back.

Alan on the bow of the Castor. Image by Quentin Felty.

Alan is grateful for the support of Underwater Explorers of Boynton Beach, Florida who have assisted him with the costs of carrying out the dives featured in this report.

The Atlantic Goliath Aggregation 5 September 2015

Dive Site: Wreck of the MV Castor.

This event happens annually and is most active during the peak dates of the aggregation which are typically around the September new moon until a few days after.

Today we had more baitfish activity with hungry jacks arriving that started bombarding the bait and irritating the groupers, I heard a few huge gulps and baitfish were inhaled by these giants as if it they were wanting to create tranquility rather than satisfying a hunger issue!

The current today was a steady one knot northerly, which for the Castor makes for an easy dive. The wreck often has strong currnets and this makes it an advanced dive, I urge divers to be qualified and experienced enough to make this dive especially if you are contemplating photography too.

Back in the morning for another two tank dive to see if the honeymoon is about to begin but looks like it will be later in the month.

The Atlantic Goliath Aggregation 6 September 2015.

Dive Site: Wreck of the MV Castor.

I need to warn potential visitors that the Castor is an advanced nitrox level dive and very strong currents can occur. This was certainly the case today. The water was dirty and had visibility of about thirty feet with what I call the washing machine current. Very hard to maneuver a large DSLR housing and strobes around a wreck in these conditions. Your gas can quickly disappear fighting a 2.5 knot current at 100 feet.

I only did one dive today as I totally missed the wreck on the second hot drop, which is a first for me! The fish action was slow with the goliaths out in the sand, sheltering behind large barrel sponges. Five or six were on the bow of the wreck, but staying in place to shoot was another issue.

As always safety first and maybe next Sunday will be the money shots.

The Atlantic Goliath Aggregation 13 September 2015.

Dive Site: Wreck of the MV Castor.

Having heard of 70 feet of visibility and blue water on Friday, I arrived with my fingers crossed that maybe Saturday was going to be the day that I would capture the “money shot” of over 100 goliath groupers in one frame. In reality however, there was a slight southerly current with a dirty 30 feet of visibility. In fact, as I descended and arrived at the bow of the Castor there was not a single goliath to be seen, so I headed on swam to the stern.

There were more baitfish than last week and with the slight current it was time to swim around and see where the action was! In fact, as I approached the stern from the west I could see them off the wreck to the east. There were not many around the wreck but I could see huge shadows in the distance. It was time for a big swim!

End note: I have heard reports of people seeing in excess of 150 goliaths whilst doing the Jupiter Wreck Trek. So my plan for next week is to dive the Castor on Friday to get an update and then head up to Jupiter for the weekend to see if this is where I can get the money shot.


  1. 5 to 13 September 2015.
  2. 18 to 27 September 2015.
  3. 3 to 11 October 2015.